Small pre-holiday moves on Wall Street

The week on Wall Street came to a close Friday with markets mostly hugging the flat line.

Investors were reluctant to make any big bets ahead of a long holiday weekend but the S&P 500 and Nasdaq crept up to another record closing high.

Santosh Rao, head of research at Manhattan Venture Partners, believes market highs are masking the real investor fears that are out there over the coronavirus.


"One of the big fears is we don't know how bad the China coronavirus effects are. Is it going to be beyond China, the impact? So we don't know that at this point. Every time it looks like it is contained, we get more news that it's not. So I think that's what's causing some confusion there and that could be one of the reasons why the bond market is doing so well because people are saying we don't want to take the risk."

A Reuters poll of economists predicts the world's second-biggest economy will slow to its weakest quarterly growth since the financial crisis over a decade ago.

And that's not investors' only concern. Data released Friday showed U.S. retail sales rose 0.3 percent in January as expected, but clothing store sales suffered their worst decline in 11 years. And total sales for December were downwardly revised.

The data could be a sign consumers are running out of gas, which would be a blow to an economy already coping with anemic business investment and a struggling factory sector. In a separate report, industrial production dropped again in February.

But when it comes to individual stocks, at least one shined through the economic dark clouds. Shares of Chipmaker Nvidia soared to all-time high Friday after a bright first-quarter outlook eclipsed a warning the company will take a coronavirus-related financial hit.

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